On the Excessive Rationality of the Emotional Imagination: A Two-Systems Account of Affective Forecasts and Experiences

Authored by: Elizabeth W. Dunn , Noah D. Forrin , Claire E. Ashton-James

Handbook of Imagination and Mental Simulation

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  September  2012

Print ISBN: 9781841698878
eBook ISBN: 9780203809846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678103

10.4324/9780203809846.ch22

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Abstract

If imagination is an airplane, then we humans are frequent fliers; emerging research in neuroscience suggests that we devote a large portion of our mental lives to traveling into the future, as well as the past, to envision what other times and places would be like and how we would feel when we got there (Buckner & Carroll, 2007; Buckner & Vincent, 2007; Gilbert & Buckner, 2007; Szpunar … McDermott, Chapter 8, this volume). Indeed, while the average Labrador seems to display some drooling recognition of how much he will enjoy the leftover steak that has just been placed in front of him, humans possess a qualitatively different ability: We can imagine a situation (or steak) that is faraway in time or place and that we have never before experienced, calculating with some degree of accuracy how we would feel if we were plunged into that situation.

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